White politician (D-NY) defends wearing blackface at party
posted at 2:41 pm on February 26, 2013 by Guy Benson
If this guy were a Republican, we’d have a national story on our hands — and MSNBC would run ’round the clock, paint-by-numbers outrage programming for at least a week. Think of the dog whistles. Alas, it’s merely a local story about a misguided state representative from Brooklyn (whose party affiliation went conveniently unmentioned in the initial radio report I heard about the controversy):
A prominent state assemblyman from Brooklyn defended himself on Monday after wearing blackface to a party he hosted to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, saying he did not mean to offend anyone. The assemblyman, Dov Hikind, a Democrat and a longtime power broker in the Orthodox Jewish community, wore an Afro wig, brown makeup, an orange jersey and sunglasses as part of a costume that he said represented a “black basketball player.” “The main objective that I have is not to be recognizable,” Mr. Hikind said in an interview. “Of course the intention was not to offend anyone. That’s the last thing that I ever imagined that would happen, to be very honest. It never crossed my mind.” Mr. Hikind had hundreds of guests to his home on Sunday, and as he said he had done in past years, he enlisted a professional makeup artist to help him with his costume…On Monday morning, after The New York Observerpublished an article about the costume, Mr. Hikind found himself at the center of a firestorm. He initially brushed off the attention, writing on his blogthat it was a product of “political correctness to the absurd” and adding, “There is not a prejudiced bone in my body.”
If nothing else, at least Hikind has learned a valuable lesson from the whole tempest:
“Next year I was thinking I’d be an Indian,” he said. “But you know, I’ve changed my mind about that. I don’t think that’s a good idea. Somebody will be offended.”
It’s Native American, man. But good move; dressing up as one is apparently more unforgivable these days than baselessly claiming to be one to enhance your professional development.
UPDATE – To be clear, I’m not calling Hikind a racist. This could just be a case of extreme naivety or very poor judgment. My main point is to underscore just how much media protection one simple letter (D) can confer upon an embattled politician.